by Julie Pham
(This article previously appeared on Người Việt Tây Bắc and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
“Một cây làm chẳng nên non. Ba cây chụm lại thành hòn núi cao.” This Vietnamese proverb means that a single tree doesn’t matter much. Three trees together look like a mountain.
How does a refugee community like the Vietnamese achieve so much when we came with so little? My father, Kim Phạm, always stressed that the success of our community is rooted in a willingness to support and uplift one another so that we can achieve our dreams. We have been able to do so much more with what little we have because we have each other’s backs.
Many of these dreams started in Vietnam. Like hundreds of thousands of other South Vietnamese who fought against the communists during the Vietnam War, my father was forced into a communist prison camp to be reeducated in the years after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Inside the camp, he dreamed of starting a newspaper in the U.S. The dream was realized in Seattle, where my parents and I managed to find refuge after fleeing Vietnam as boat people. My parents named the newspaper Người Việt Tây Bắc (NVTB), which translates to “Vietnamese people of the Northwest.”
Continue reading The Key to a Refugee Community’s Success
by Trey Rabun
(This article originally appeared on Amara’s website and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
I’ve had the privilege of working within child welfare for almost 12 years now. My professional journey started in our state agency (now called the Department of Children, Youth and Families — DCYF) supporting children who were “legally free,” meaning children who the state has decided cannot safely return home and are now seeking to find forever families, typically through adoption or guardianship.
As a social work practicum student, I was able to immerse myself in the work of all aspects of child welfare including doing “ride arounds” with Child Protective Services (CPS) investigators and sitting in on intense family decision meetings. Throughout my career, I have always looked for the best ways to support kids and families in foster care, including looking at how best to support Black families caring for kids and youth in our immediate and extended families.
There will always be one family from that time who has stuck with me even after all these years.
Continue reading OPINION: Kinship Care Can Help Transform The Child Welfare System
by John Stafford
“The Legislature has just wrapped up an historic and truly extraordinary session. It has been the most innovative, having produced unprecedented and legacy making advances as all-encompassing as any session in the last 25 years.”— Governor Jay Inslee, April 25, 2021
The Washington State Legislature has just completed its 2021 session — a 105-day event charged with passing three state budgets (operating, transportation and capital) and hundreds of policy bills, conducted exclusively online. From a liberal perspective, this has been an exciting and momentous session, with major legislative achievements in a wide range of areas.
I’ll evaluate the 2021 Legislative Session in 14 different areas: state budgets, tax reform, pandemic response, economic relief, housing and homelessness, K–12 education, health care, racial justice, criminal justice, gun control, labor, climate change, growth management act, and other, and give the session an overall grade.
Continue reading A Highly Compelling Session: An Evaluation of the 2021 Washington State Legislature
Why an economic recovery agenda shaped by those who have relied on government programs prioritizes investing in people
by Senator Joe Nguyen, 34th Legislative District
The headlines after several of us first-term legislators took office in 2019 proclaimed we were the “most diverse in state history,” and we should all be proud that we broke that record again after last year’s election. What hasn’t made the headlines, however, is the power of the advocacy we’ve witnessed from these legislators in conversations about how we should respond to the dire need felt by people in our communities.
That powerful advocacy is what’s responsible for the progress we’ve made this session in crafting a budget that reflects our values. Budget policy isn’t academic; the decisions we make about how to spend the state’s resources can be the difference between whether someone eats or starves, or whether they keep a roof over their head or end up homeless during a global pandemic.
Continue reading OPINION: Representation Matters
by Margaret Babayan and Emily Vyhnanek
Last week, in a historic win for Washingtonians, the legislature passed House Bill 1297, an updated version of our state’s long-unfunded Working Families Tax Credit, with overwhelming bipartisan support. This targeted tax credit, which will provide an annual cash rebate to nearly 1 in 6 households with low and moderate incomes, will soon be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.
An earlier version of the credit initially passed the legislature in 2008 thanks to the efforts of many anti-poverty advocates, but amid state budget cuts during the Great Recession, it was never funded.
In the past few years however, a statewide coalition of more than 45 organizations formed to rekindle and strengthen advocacy efforts to get direct, flexible cash to Washingtonians and to expand eligibility to include more immigrants. The diverse coalition represents economic and racial justice groups, immigrant rights advocates, small business incubators, labor organizations, direct service providers, domestic violence advocates, research organizations (like the one we work for: the Washington State Budget & Policy Center), and more.
Continue reading OPINION: Community Members and Advocates Achieved a Big Victory for Inclusive Cash Support
by M. Anthony Davis
I can’t describe the wave of emotion I experienced hearing the reading of the verdict. Guilty on all counts. I had spent so much energy refusing to believe justice would be served that I never allowed myself to even consider the idea that Chauvin would be found guilty of all charges. Now that it has happened, I’m in shock.
After about 10 hours of deliberation, the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial found Chauvin, the officer who was filmed with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, guilty on charges of third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The verdict was followed by both cheers and tears from those awaiting the decision outside the courthouse in Minneapolis.
Continue reading OPINION: Today’s Ruling Was a Victory — Tomorrow the Fight Continues
by Tammy Morales
When it comes to addressing gun violence in our community, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is. Organizations like Safe Passage, Boys & Girls Club’s SE Network, Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC), and Urban Family invest time in our communities, support our young people, and build community. They have been doing essential work long before Omari Wallace was shot and killed on March 18. In fact, we were supposed to be having a Zoom meeting about the increase of South Seattle shootings when we learned that a young man walked into the Emerald City Bible Fellowship and shot 19-year-old Wallace who was there attending a meeting.
Continue reading OPINION: Gun Violence Is a Symptom of Poverty
by Datyous Mahmoudian
As someone who has experienced incarceration, I see voting rights restoration as a mark of good government. It sent me the message that “I matter” instead of reinforcing the stigma and second-class citizenship that are often experienced when people like me reenter our communities.
The recent passage of House Bill 1078 by our state legislature has cultivated a strong wave of hope and optimism from current and formerly incarcerated communities and their allies in Washington State. This new law will give new opportunity to thousands of politically disenfranchised people who want to make their voices heard by casting a vote for those who create the laws that govern our lives.
Continue reading OPINION: Voting Rights Restoration Bill’s Passage Brings Hope to Our Formerly Incarcerated Communities
by Kshama Sawant
Two years ago, working-class renters at the Bryn Mawr apartments in Skyway were stunned to find notices from their landlord tacked on their doors. The papers told them: Get out.
The landlord gave no reason for the eviction notices, because under King County law, he did not need to.
In danger of becoming homeless, the Bryn Mawr tenants fought back. They reached out to my socialist Seattle City Council office and, together with community groups, we organized a press conference to expose the landlord’s threat. Then we spearheaded a letter from 30 community leaders demanding that the landlord rescind the eviction notices. We made plans to deliver the letter and publicize it in the media.
Continue reading OPINION: Renters Must Get Organized to Win ‘Just Cause’ and Other Protections Against Eviction
by Melina Rivera
I live in an industrial area of town. For the last 12 years, my South Seattle neighborhood has experienced the changes of gentrification. The punk rock house with a sign that read “don’t trifle with us” still stands, but its inhabitants and the sign are now gone and townhomes with six to a dozen units per lot have popped up with more on the way. I have new sets of neighbors where I see more young children and young parents walking their dogs and taking their children for an outing down my alleyway. In fact, my alleyway serves more like a sidewalk as folks walk by with strollers and kids on bikes as we exchange pleasantries. My new neighbors are also homeless with different types of RVs and makeshift homes lining our streets and a tiny-home village with folks who care about the community as much as those with a fixed roof over their heads.
What has not changed in my neighborhood are the toxic odors that I wake up to most mornings.
Continue reading OPINION: Let’s Call It What It Is — Pollute and Trade